Hawkes Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group

Be Ready At Home

Ruby (holding baby Joy) and her family of 5 children had to cope at home after the 1931 earthquake after her husband was tragically killed.  Photograph courtesy of the Fraser family
Ruby (holding baby Joy) and her family of 5 children had to cope at home after the 1931 earthquake after her husband was tragically killed. Photograph courtesy of the Fraser family

Think about how you would cope if you had to suddenly leave your home. Or how you would get along if you had to look after your family on your own after an earthquake, probably without power, gas, sewer pipes or water.

Here are 5 simple steps to prepare your own Emergency Plan:

On this page

STEP 1: Find out about Hawke’s Bay's hazards

By learning what emergencies could occur in your community and what your risks may be, you can prepare for the emergencies in your neighbourhood.  Read more under Hazard Information.

You also need to think about:

  • If key roads are blocked for any reason, you may have to arrange for children to stay at school or with friends; getting to and from work or shops may not be possible so you need supplies stored.
  • In a widespread emergency, telephones (including cellphones) may be overloaded.
  • Electricity may not work which means you won't have lights/fridges/freezers/electric stoves, computers, etc.  Also street lights, water pumps, and fuel pumps at gas stations won't be working and so on.


STEP 2: Make your home safe

Find out about hazards around your home (your local Council can help you)

  • How high has floodwater come in the past?
  • Are outside drains and channels clear?
  • Do trees threaten your house?
  • Are hazardous materials stored nearby?
  • Is your property near a faultline or at risk of liquefaction?
  • Where is a safe area to go to?

Remove or secure any objects that could fall and do harm:

  • Wardrobes
  • Bookcases
  • Ornaments
  • Free-standing fireplaces
  • For more information see the EQ-IQ website – www.eq-iq.org.nz

Insure your home and content - regularly check your cover
Check that your insurance is current and adequate to cover possible damage and contact your insurer for advice.  If your house and/or contents are insured you will automatically receive Earthquake Commission cover for damage caused by earthquake, natural landslip, volcanic eruption, hydrothermal activity, tsunami; in the case of residential land, a storm or flood; or fire caused by any of these.
You can find useful insurance advice from the Insurance Council who represent the insurance industry at NZ http://icnz.org.nz/for-consumers/  
Learn about changes to the home insurance policies underwritten by IAG that will affect many HB homeowners at http://need2know.org.nz/  

Install smoke detectors and a fire extinguisher 

Store all chemicals safely well above potential floodwater level
- Many household products need safe storage
- Agricultural and pool chemicals need special care

Increase your survival skills:
- Talk to Civil Defence at your Council
- Join Neighbourhood Support
- Learn First Aid

Turn off Utilities
In an emergency, utilities such as gas, water and electricity may need to be turned off. This may be because they are damaged or to prevent further injusry to people and property. A plan of your home can be drawn up showing where to turn off water, electricity and gas. Always seek professional help before reconnecting the gas supply.

Escape Plan
An escape plan outlines the safest ways out of each room of the home, and gives an outside meeting place.


STEP 3: Household Emergency Plan

Go to the National Civil Defence Website ‘Get Thru’ and download a copy of the   Household Emergency Plan.  

It is designed to help you and your family in an emergency, so fill it in with the members of your household. 
There is also useful information on the type of foods to store on the national civil defence website http://www.civildefence.govt.nz/memwebsite.nsf/Files/Consistent-messages-feedback/$file/Part%20A%20emergency%20survival%20kit%20final.pdf  Food can lift morale and help people feel secure in time of stress. Try to include foods that everyone will enjoy. Look for foods high in calories, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Look for canned foods with high liquid content in case water is scarce.


STEP 4: Talk to your neighbours

Talk to your neighbours and join Neighbourhood Support.


Step 5: Prepare your Household Emergency Checklist & Getaway Kit

This checklist will help you prepare essential food, water, clothing and medical supplies for you and your family to cope for at least three days.  Go to the National Civil Defence Website ‘Get Thru’ and download a copy of the  Checklist.  

You should also prepare a  Getaway Kit of essential emergency and medical items if you need to be evacuated.

Basic Emergency Survival items will include:

  • Bottled water – 3 litres per person for 3 days – BUT MORE IS BETTER 
  • Canned and non perishable food (plus baby and pet food if necessary) 
  • Torch & batteries or lightsticks
  • Battery powered radio with spare batteries 
  • Important documents – will, insurance documents etc (*)
  • First aid kit/personal medication
  • Alternative cooking source – such as a barbeque or gas cooker
  • Warm clothing and sturdy shoes
  • Plastic bucket with plastic bag/bin liners
  • Toilet rolls
  • Soap/wet wipes
  • Can opener and knife
  • Matches or lighter
  • Blankets
  • Disinfectant for cleaning

Note: It is not important to have all these items in one place but it is important to know how to locate them in a hurry.

Age Concern Hastings is the national distributor for Life Tubes and emergency services in Hawke's Bay tell us these have proved valuable in an emergency. The special tube contains vital personal information in case of accident, illness or emergency and is an convenient way to store important information.   

Remember to regularly check and update details. The change of daylight savings is a good time to do this as well as change your smoke alarm batteries.

Done all Five Steps?
Congratulations, you've got an Emergency Plan!


Evacuation: Do we stay or do we go? 

Leave home only in immediate danger or if you are officially advised.

Stay inside (unless you are advised to evacuate) if there is a chemical or gas disaster, a storm, or a volcanic eruption.  Listen to the radio or TV for information. If the power is off, your car radio will still work.

Evacuate if there is:

  • Fire - Get Out and Stay Out
  • A large earthquake and you are on the coast as tsunami can follow earthquakes
  • Any immediate and obvious danger
  • Official advice to do so (if you have time, take your survival items and listen to your radio)

Chemical and Gas Leaks:
Chemical and gas leaks may lead to evacuation, but are not usually of long duration. You will be advised by radio and TV of what to do. Seal up doors and windows.

Extreme Weather:
In a storm, act before things get worse. Broken glass and loose objects like corrugated iron can be very dangerous - secure loose items, close curtains and stay away from windows. Bring pets inside and move stock to shelter.

Volcanic Eruption:
Volcanic eruptions are only likely to be physically dangerous in the immediate vicinity. However, a major eruption can deposit huge quantities of volcanic ash over a large area, which isn't toxic but very abrasive and hard to get rid of. . Driving may be dangerous and you are safest indoors - if you have to go outside, use a mask or cloth to keep ash from your eyes, nose and mouth. Save water and listen to your radio or TV. Wet ash is very heavy and can cuase roofs and gutters to collapse, and may need to be swept off.

Flooding can occur very suddenly, and can be dangerous - don't go into flooded areas and don't drink floodwater. If you leave home, take your Getaway Kit, switch off the power, and take pets with you if you can. Think about others who may need your help.

Tsunamis, which are very large ocean waves, can devastate low-lying coastal areas and travel at great speed. If a warning is issued or you feel an earthquake near the sea or estuary, go immediately to higher ground, at least one kilometre inland or 35 metres above sea level. Your life may depend on urgent action.

Loss of Essential Services:
A long-term electricity or water failure may make your home uninhabitable.  Look after those who may need your help - neighbours, people with disabilities, children and pets.

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